Shrewsbury Town forward James Collins scored the opening goal in the 16th minute of the third round of the Carling Cup against Arsenal on Tuesday, and Arsene Wenger was probably feeling the immediate tension of critical Gunner supporters.
Fortunately for Wenger, the match had 84 minutes remaining, and his collection of young starters made the most of it with three unanswered goals in the 3-1 victory at Emirates Stadium.
Left back Kieran Gibbs would even things up 15 minutes after Collins's goal, and Arsenal would dominate the match. Teen-aged sensation Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored from about 25 yards out in the 58th minute, and veteran midfielder Yossi Benayoun scored the final goal of the match in the 78th minute to hold off the Shrews.
Wenger went with an interesting lineup. Though the squad was packed with young players, Wenger had some experienced players in the starting 11 along Benayoun and Gibbs, which included Johan Djourou, Chu Young Park, and Marouane Chamakh. Lukasz Fabianski was in goal.
Young starters aside from Chamberlain included Carl Jenkinson, Ignasi Miguel, Francis Coquelin, and Emmanuel Frimpong.
Wenger gave a trio of 18-year-olds their Arsenal debut as well, when Ryo Miyaichi, considered a potential star for the Gunners and Japan, replaced Park in the 71st minute. Dutch midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup replaced Frimpong in the 77th minute, while Chuks Aneke, who has been dubbed by some as the next Patrick Viera, also received action when he replaced Benayoun in the 90th minute.
Wenger's critics could perhaps see Tuesday's 3-1 result as the reason the long-time boss is such a valuable asset to the organization. Arsenal have several up-and-coming players that could play significant roles with the club for several years to come, and that's due to Wenger's steadfast effort to build a strong reserve squad and search for burgeoning talent overseas.
As for Shrewsbury, the club managed to keep the match rather competitive. The League Two club made a strong effort to attack throughout the match, and managed to take eight shots, with four on goal, and had possession for 43 percent of the match, while committing only two fouls.